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Romgaz plans an ambitious investment program – interview with the CEO Adrian Volintiru

Since the coronavirus’ outbreak, Romania’s largest natural gas producer Romgaz has responded very well to the situation, both when it comes to keep delivering energy supplies and to help the most affected sectors, like the healthcare one.

Now, while a new phase is bringing a gradual relaxation of those restrictive measures put in place two months ago, Romgaz CEO Adrian Volintiru is looking at the future. He spoke with CEENERGYNEWS about the company’s future investments that will not only help Romgaz but the entire Romanian economy.

Romgaz is conserving reserves and planning an ambitious investment program to support the recovery of the economy and thus increase energy consumption.

After all, natural gas has still a role to play in the future regional energy mix. In 2018, gas and fossil fuel oil accounted for 16.9 per cent of Romania’s energy production, preceded only by coal, at 23.1 per cent.

“Natural gas remains a clean fuel and will be sought after as economies work,” Mr Volintiru underlines. “The current low consumption will determine the development of the still unaddressed consumption segments, CNG and the development of efficient cogeneration.”

When it comes to a regional role that gas will play soon, very recently the CEO of the Hungarian transmission system operator FGSZ said that as of October 2021, 6 billion cubic metres of gas a year may come from Serbia. Mr Volintiru is not concerned about what this would mean for Romania. According to him, Hungary will remain faithful to the Russian gas source and adapt to deliveries through the Turk Stream.

But at the same time, the objectives of the European Green Deal are behind the corner.

The implementation of the European Green Deal is both an opportunity and a threat if we take into consideration the use of natural gas as a transition solution for energy production.

“Taking into consideration the European Union’s objective to give up on using solid fossil fuels, on the medium term, must be capitalised by Romgaz and we are ready to do so,” he explains. “On the medium term, we are also ready to diversify our activities, especially in increasing usage of natural gas as a raw material for several industries.”

Specifying what opportunities and what threats the transition might represent for the company, Mr Volintiru believes that for Romgaz this transition creates opportunities to develop natural gas production, increase the portfolio and adapt or participate in new technologies that use natural gas as raw material like methanol production, CNG and hydrogen production.

All eyes are on the Neptun Deep gas field in the Black Sea, whose negotiations seems will only continue in 202. Other companies, like OMV Petrom, have already expressed their interest in the Black Sea gas field, but they are waiting for legislative changes that would ensure stability, fiscal competitiveness and the right to a free gas market.

OMV Group, who owns a 51.01 per cent stake in OMV Petrom, confirmed that following the decision of the American group ExxonMobil to sell its 50 per cent stake in the Neptun project, the final investment decision is almost certain not to be taken this year, but only in 2021. Also Romgaz CEO, quoted by local media, confirmed those statements.

Therefore, what’s Romgaz’s future?

“We will continue the investment directions we have started in 2017, in the electricity production market, and besides finalising the Iernut Power Plant we will start the construction of a new power plant in Mintia, with an installed power of 405 megawatts (MW),” he reveals.

“Also we are looking for business opportunities in different markets, and we are now analysing the option to build a methanol plant,” he concludes. “In line with the European policies, Romgaz wants to be a strong actor and we fully recognise the importance of research and innovation. We are ready to develop our research capacities and identify partners to anticipate the technological revolution that now opens in front of us.”

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